Fruit grower S&A Produce awaits planning decision for workers' accommodation

Soft fruit grower S&A Produce is awaiting the results of a planning application for workers' accommodation at its site in Marden, Herefordshire.

It wants to shrink the size of its accommodation for seasonal workers at Brook Farm from a 1,000 to an 852-people capacity facility - and remove its ‘pods' to ensure the farm's accommodation is comprised of only caravans and dormitories.

The application is due to come before Herefordshire County Council's planning committee next Wednesday (March 17) and is a crucial part of S&A's downsizing project - which over the past year has seen the business shrink its operations to appease local residents.

It has, for example, reduced the polytunnel coverage of on one of its sites from 67ha to 35ha.

Frank Green, managing director at S&A, said:  "This is an important planning decision for us. Seasonal workers are a vital part of our business, and if we are bringing people to work on our farms we have to be able to provide good quality accommodation.

"There really are no alternatives to accommodating our seasonal workers at Marden to support our operations there.  Suitable alternative properties do not exist within a reasonable distance of S&A's sites and having staff living away from the company's operations would increase traffic coming to and from the site and reduce our ability to provide support for our employees' welfare.

"We have been eager to take on board local feedback regarding the future of our operations in Marden. The recent changes to our plans for Brook Farm represent a significant improvement to existing facilities and, I believe, address the concerns of the local community and the council's planning committee in respect of the last planning application."

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